Mrs. O’Hara, a widow of some five years, went to visit a famous medium, thinking she might contact her late husband, Mike. The medium assured her that every effort would be made and that they would hold a séance that very evening. Several believers gathered around the table, and the medium ordered that the lights be dimmed and that everyone at the table join hands. A hush fell over the room, and the medium called the name Mike O’Hara over and over again.
Suddenly a strange calm seemed to permeate the room and a distant voice, faint at first but growing stronger and stronger, cried, “I am Mike O’Hara. Who is it who calls my spirit forth?”
The medium replied that it was indeed his own wife who called upon him, and that Mrs. O’Hara wished to speak to him. The spirit replied that he would speak to his wife.
“Mike,” said Mrs. O’Hara, “are you alright?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I am alright.”
“Tell me, are you happy there?”
“Yes, I am happy here.”
“Are you happier there than you were on earth with me?”
“Yes,” replied the spirit, “I am much happier here than I was on earth with you.”
Mrs. O’Hara seemed a bit shaken, but she had one last question. “Tell me, my husband, what is it like there? What is heaven really like?”
“Don’t be absurd, woman,” roared the truthful spirit. “Whatever made you think I was in heaven?”
Even hell will look like heaven in the beginning, because you have created a bigger hell on earth. You are living in such misery, in such hell on earth, of your own creation, that when you enter into hell, if there is any hell, you will find great relief in the beginning. It will be only later on that you come to understand that this is hell. But we talk about everybody who dies – that he has gone to heaven, that he has become a beloved of God, that God has chosen him, called him forth…ways of avoiding death.
But Buddha talks continuously about death. His first sutra is: You are as the yellow leaf. Yellow leaf represents death. Any moment it is going to fall down. Dust unto dust, any moment and death is going to possess you. Tomorrow may never come, even the next moment is not certain. This is the only moment you can be certain of, next moment you may not be here. What are you doing to prepare for that great journey into the unknown?
You are as the yellow leaf.
The messengers of death are at hand.
You are to travel far away.